Fiddler's GreenMar 25, 2015
Steve Black, founder of the Caribbean 1500 rally, died March 17, 2014, following a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
Black was born in St. Louis, Mo., and moved to Michigan where he ran a publishing company. He began sailing in his mid-30s at the Grand River Sailing Club on Lake Michigan.
Offshore sailing was his passion and over the years he made three single-handed trans-Atlantic passages. Competing in the Legend Cup, he set a multihull record time of 15 days aboard his Newick 40-foot trimaran.
Following his career in publishing, he served as executive director of US Sailing in Newport, R.I., for three years. After that he managed the Sailing World NOOD (National Offshore One-Design) regattas.
His greatest contribution to sailing is the Caribbean 1500 cruising rally, sailing from Newport, R.I., and Norfolk, Va., to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. The rally serves as an alternative to full on-ocean racing and offers its participants preparatory seminars and camaraderie ashore and afloat. He retired from “The 1500” in 2010. The 25th Caribbean 1500 Rally was sailed during the fall of 2014.
Hedley (Ted) Gozzard, founder of Gozzard Yachts, died at his home in Bayfield, Ontario, on May 15, 2014 at the age of 80.
Gozzard began designing and building cruising yachts in the early 1970s when he founded Bayfield Boat Yard (BBY) with his brother Hayden. Before selling his shares in the company in 1979 he sold his interest in the yard and established Gozzard Yachts in Goderich, Ontario. The yard specializes in custom and semi-custom sail and powerboats.
Longtime sailing industry professional Terence Hanna died in 2014 at the age of 99. Hanna was involved in numerous sailing industry innovations including the first bimetallic aluminum and titanium masts, and reinforced plastic film sails that he created in his Hanna Sails loft in 1969.
His lifelong sailing career began in England before he moved to the U.S. in 1939 to work as Vice President of Sail Design at Ratsey Sailmakers. In 1959 he moved to Newport Beach, Calif., with his family, and founded Hanna Sails and the Sparcraft Corporation. At Sparcraft he designed the first composite type mast using a lightweight titanium top section for the 1964 America’s Cup winner, Constellation.
He retired to New England in 1979 and is survived by his daughter Christy Pulsifer and son Bill Hanna, who is currently the Vice President of Forespar Corporation.
Hobart Laidlaw Alter died on March 29, 2014, at the age of 80 at his home in Palm Desert, Calif. The son of second-generation orange growers, his innovations revolutionized the sport of surfing and brought sailing to the masses. In April 2014 he was honored by hundreds at a special on-the-water ceremony.
A true renaissance man, Alter started out building surfboards in his parents Laguna Beach, Calif., garage in 1950. He combined his love for woodworking and the water by shaping nine-foot surfboards for his friends. In 1954 he opened the first surf shop. He used rigid foam as an alternative to balsa and his boards quickly became the choice of West Coast surfers.
Alter went on to develop his namesake boat, the Hobie Cat — a light, easily launched and relatively inexpensive catamaran. The Hobie Cat became one of the best selling sailboats of all time.
Alter had one final request: He wanted a traditional Hawaiian paddle-out ceremony after he died. On April 18, 2014, the ceremony and remembrance was held in the waters of Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, Calif. Hundreds gathered on surfboards and catamarans to honor Alter, the man who had helped them get out on the water.
John B. Thomson, Jr.
John B. Thomson, Jr., of Sands Point, N.Y., died Sept. 10, 2014, after succumbing to the effects of ALS. He was 70.
Owner of the Infinity yacht racing team, he won many regattas around the world through the course of 40 years of buoy and ocean racing, spanning from the early 1970s into the 21st century.
Thomson was born May 31, 1944, in Mineola, N.Y. He attended the New York Institute of Technology where he earned an engineering degree. Upon graduation, he joined Thomson Industries, the company founded by his father.
Thomson was a past director of the U.S. Naval Academy-Fales Committee, and one of the benefactors that helped the New York Yacht Club purchase Harbor Court in Newport, R.I.
In 1979 Thomson founded one of Long Island Sound’s greatest regattas, the Manhasset Bay Fall Series. Thomson always steered his own yachts and believed in an amateur crew.
Leverett Brainard Davis, Sr.
Leverett Brainard Davis Sr., 100, died Aug. 27, 2014, in Damariscotta, Maine. Davis graduated from Kent School in 1932, and from Williams College in 1936. After college, from 1936 to 1938 he sailed around the world aboard the schooner Yankee.
His early sailing began in a Barnegat Bay sneakbox in 1932 on Long Island Sound. He also sailed and raced the family’s Sakonnet knockabout. He cruised and raced on Long Island Sound and to Block Island and the Vineyard, as well as on New York Yacht Club cruises. He was elected to the Cruising Club of America in 1939.